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When it comes to money habits, Christians are worldly, Aylor says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The church does not look much different from the rest of the world in managing money, a Southern Baptist stewardship leader believes.

“We are bombarded daily with messages that tell us we deserve it all, we can have it all, we can have it now and we are worth it,” said Gary Aylor, director of church stewardship services at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Among statistics Aylor cites are of the 50 percent of marriages that fail, more than half of those fail because of money problems, and a whopping 80 percent of Americans owe more than they own. In 1999, the average person spent $1.17 for every $1 earned. More than 60 percent of bankruptcies are caused by credit card abuse.

For older Americans, the golden years do not appear bright. Only 2 percent are financially free, Aylor said. Of the remaining 98 percent, 23 percent must continue to work, 45 percent are dependent on relatives and 30 percent depend on charity.

Aylor said Baptists, on average, give only 2.3 percent of their income to church, yet they pay 10.2 percent of their income in interest on debt. Of adults who attend church at least once a month, as many as 37 percent give nothing at all to church. Persons age 55 and older give 80 percent of the money given to churches.

“Some who recognize that God owns their money feel it only applies to the tithe. They have not understood that stewardship applies to the other 90 percent too,” he observed.

“Most Christians are surprised to learn that no topic, other than love, is more thoroughly covered in Scripture. In fact, two-thirds of the parables deal with stewardship. Jesus knew we were going to have problems dealing with money, so he had a lot to say to us about it.”

Focusing on those biblical teachings are three resources on money management, published in October by LifeWay. They are by noted finance author and speaker Larry Burkett with writer Kay Moore.

“Jesus on Money: Book One, Charting A New Course” will help persons determine where they are in relationship to biblical teachings on personal financial management. “Book Two, Making Mid-Course Corrections” deals with adjusting goals and spending plans to accommodate changing needs and situations. “Book Three, Crossing the Finish Line” focuses on yet another life stage, demonstrating how to continue adjusting goals and spending in order to join God in his kingdom agenda of winning the world. A fourth book, a leader guide for the three other volumes, provides steps for using the resources in one’s church, training leaders and leading group sessions.

Calling the set of resources “the first of its kind in Baptist life,” Aylor said Jesus on Money deals with virtually every money-related topic.

Among subjects addressed are assessing one’s finances, borrowing, lending, saving, spending, consumer debt, interest, giving, hoarding, planning for the future, job and career decisions, caring for family, adjusting plans to accommodate change and leaving a legacy.

The three studies, each for six weeks, offer depth and variety of Scripture for study in small groups. The focus, Aylor said, is on life stage rather than age.

“The first step in determining where a person is with respect to personal financial management is, ‘How did I get here?’ Persons can assess their money beliefs and their money handling habits, evaluating whether these line up with the Bible.

“When we have a plan, a way to adjust to life changes and goals to honor God with our resources, we find contentment,” Aylor said. “Life is about having a plan that matches God’s purpose for my life.”

Jesus on Money may be obtained by calling LifeWay toll-free at 1-800-458-2772.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: JESUS ON MONEY.

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  • Charles Willis